Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Thought On Migraines

Yep, I've got another one. It must have something to do with the piddling little upsets of the past year or so:

Quite some time ago, the business connection that had kept me afloat for years packed up and moved. My work started to really dry up. My other two main connections -- let's call them Dr. Feelgood and The Newbie, so you can picture them as wisecracking crimebusters in a buddy movie -- simply did not come through with the accounts I needed to stay solvent. I started nervously looking for another job, in the state with the worst economy and lousiest job prospects in the nation.

Last April 10th I found something I actually thought I wanted, and started a job so hellish I did not have time to stop and realize the fact. I finally got stuffed into a Baggie and taken to the doctor, who gave me more and better drugs. Most of the time they worked, too, until:

I got laid off from Hell Job, about 9 months into the ordeal, which is probably terribly symbolic. But I didn't have time to stop and register that rich imagery of being spewed screaming into a world I never imagined. I had to find work. I started looking even before they told me that it was a mistake, that I was keeping my job after all; that, oops, they lied, I was in fact getting laid off; that they'd move heaven and earth to get some something else; that there were lots of jobs out there for someone like me; that oops, they lied, there was nothing; that they were sorry that nobody they'd asked for help from was coming through; and on and on. After all my leads had fizzled, and I was in a complete panic:

The bosses shunted me into a different job, one I could keep for the rest of my life if I wanted. But this was work I'd vowed I'd never take. Now I was finding out why I was right all along to avoid it. It was a lot less exhausting than Hell Job, but boy did it ever suck. AND I had to commute to get there. AND the freeway coming back home was closed, so I had to drive on badly-maintained dirt roads at the height of the slush season in my plucky little clown car. It wasn't the work so much as the spine-jolting ride that had me coming home with a daily headache.

At this moment, of all the low points in my life, the exact dream job I've wanted for years opened up. If I hadn't been laid off I wouldn't even have been looking, and I would have clean missed it. To my utter astonishment, I got the job. After weeks of the staff trying to intimidate me with how tough it was going to be, I discovered that it's really no big deal. Except for learning new paperwork, I can pretty much do this job blindfolded. Even starting at the bottom of their pay scale means a raise for me. The more I learn about it, the more I see that this work combines the best features of all my previous career experience. They told me that I actually have a GOOD reputation in the community, in spite of all the dire things Dr. Feelgood used to tell me. (I knew he was talking through his hat, but for shit sake, the guy signed my paychecks.)

I started a year to the day from the inception of Hell Job.

The blinking and twitching of the past couple of months -- did this really only start in the middle of February? -- have started to subside.

So why do I have another migraine this weekend?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Another Prophet Of Chaos Obtains Final Reward

Man, they're dropping like flies. This week we lost a rarity indeed, a conscious and calculating prophet of Chaos. How else can you describe an author of a long string of stories and novels concerned with the final dissolution of humanity? We all get killed off in these stories, not because humanity has it coming or because there is a bearded old man in a bathrobe in the sky who's finally had enough of our antics, but because one scientist just had to make that last experiment? Because some daring social engineer decided to level the playing field and make everyone feel equal? Because a pharmacist somewhere decided that our natural makeup was too problematic, and needed to be adjusted with the help of chemicals? Truly, this is Thomas Hardy brought into our own century. And now, no more novels. No more of those great stories. No more of that haymaker-to-the-head way he had of pointing out certain facts.

It's a little hard to even grasp that Kurt Vonnegut is dead. I'll adjust. I guess.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Pontifications

Easter is a very special time of year that always reminds me of the human compulsion to create traditions, rules and guidelines, whether there is a reason to or not.

Think about it and remember all the people you know who have rules, for instance, about chocolate Easter bunnies. People insist on a certain make and model of bunny, for one thing. It has to be hollow, or it has to be solid. It has to face to the right in its box, or it has to come without a box, wrapped in foil. It has to be made by THIS company and no other. It has to be white chocolate every third year. It has to be the same size bunny we used to get every year in my Easter basket, until we outgrew them. It has to be eaten ears first, or tail first, or the head has to be snapped off and eaten separately. It has to be displayed for the week preceding Easter in an adorable pastel basket with funky plastic Easter grass and the proper brand of jellybeans. This says a great deal about people's longing for some sort of structure in their lives. This, after all the trouble we went to in the Sixties and Seventies tearing away all those old traditions that seemed so confining. Sheesh.

This sort of Eristic thinking permeates an otherwise perfectly chaotic holiday. I've personally heard a televangelist snarling at his viewing audience about how the Pagan trappings of eggs and bunnies make him sick, and how we should remove the Pagan name "Easter" and replace it with "Resurrection Day." OK, whatever you want, buddy, but can you please wash that lacquer out of your hair now? You could put an eye out with that pompadour. But I digress. The constant tension between the Pagan foundations and its Christian overlay always make me grin happily. When one side finally wins, um, what does it win? The Pagans expect to be burned at the stake by the Christians, and the Christians expect the Pagans to go Attila the Hun on their asses.

The Christians are really dang violent about Easter. A friend of mine, raised Catholic, explained to me once how as kids they always took turns mutilating the special Easter lamb made of butter. It was also a special part of their family's Easter to buy what he called a "Lamb O'God" cake and ritually decapitate it.

As long as this mutual dominance display goes on to decide the true ownership of this day, there is only one winner: the Goddess Of Discord.

Here's another dandy example: fifty or a hundred years ago, Easter was the day when ladies and girls first wore their swell new outfits made for the warm weather months. Nowadays it has morphed into a completely zany tradition of buying a single, ridiculously frothy pastel outfit that cries out to be worn with white stockings, Mary Janes and a flowered hat. This outfit will make its debut at church on Easter Sunday, and/or at Easter Sunday dinner with the extended family -- then NEVER WORN AGAIN. Because where would you look appropriate in that goofy concoction? If this isn't a true Discordian ritual of spring, I don't know what is.

My own personal Easter tradition is to watch Night Of The Lepus, a classic horror film in which a Lincoln Log town in the California desert is menaced by giant radioactive bunnies. Life is good to me as long as there's a filmmaker out there with a bold vision like this one, and a little under $8,000 to spend on the project.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Hagalaz, the Norse for "Hail Eris"

Remember Ralph Blum's book on the Norse runes, The Book Of Runes, outlining the symbolic meanings of the letters in the Runic alphabet and explaining how to use them as a method of divination? I'm not sure whether he was the first one or the best one to come out with a book on this subject, but right around that same time, everyone and his hamster started coming out with Rune sets made from every sort of material -- from porcelain to semiprecious stones. I pretty much stick with the ceramic set that came with Blum's book, out of inertia. I do like the pretty ones in rose quartz and the totally punked-out ones made from hematite. A set of jade ones might be nice.

But check out Blum's commentary about the rune Hagalaz, meaning "Hail." Blum says something to the effect that this rune "always operates through reversal." To the ancients Hagalaz signified terrifying changes and, generally, getting the rug yanked out from underneath you. Garsh, last I checked that was the core experience of kissing Chaos on the mouth.

It was only years later, when I was watching Twister, that I learned hail is the harbinger of tornadoes. You remember what the tornado did to Dorothy and Toto, right? "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" is possibly one of the oldest and most sacred Discordian mantras, spoken with trembling and giggles even by those who have never heard of the Goddess of Confusion.

So to me, Hagalaz or "Hail" pretty much means "Hail Eris."

With all this in mind,
check out this YouTube video documenting a really swell hailstorm.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Discordian Grief Ritual Discovered

Now that it is too late, I went to the RAW site and took down his mailing address. It helped release a remarkable flood of tears for a man I never met. I mean, I knew I felt terrible about us having to lose him. I did NOT suspect I felt terrible enough to have to stifle my sobs in my cubicle, hoping the people around me wouldn't come and ask what was wrong with me. I've only been here a month for Scrod sake. There's only so much I want to reveal this early on, if you can dig it.

Writing down his address in my book -- in ink -- captures a tiny bit of the profound mistake I made every time I failed to set time aside to go to one of his lectures, or didn't get around to picking up one of his books -- money that would have helped support him in his last crisis. I could have met him in person half a dozen times, easily, but did I do it? I treated him as if he were immortal, and now look.

From now on I will think of this Discordian grief ritual as Opening The Barn Door, Except The Horse Went To The Glue Factory Last Week.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Whoo-Hoo! Eris Ephemeris Available Already!

Here I thought we’d have to wait YEARS for an ephemeris of the newly-named Kuiper Belt Object or Dwarf Planet, Eris. But one appeared in the April/May Mountain Astrologer, and special thanks to the clipping service for rushing this to me just in time for April 1st. No gift could possibly be more appropriate for April Fools’ Day. Now I can track the physical movements of the Cosmic Wild Card in my own, or anyone else’s life.

The article, "Eris Stirs Up Trouble" by Zane B. Stein, on page 25 of the April/May issue, is full of delightful tidbits. For one thing, the Zanester competely upended my dismay at the original nickname for the KBO, "Xena." All he had to do was remind me that the flying rock’s namesake, "Xena The Warrior Princess," was played by Lucy Lawless, delightfully appropriate in itself. He went on to point out that Eris has a satellite soon to be named after one of her daughters, Dysnomia, or Lawlessness. And it’s not just the last name that resonates here. Lucy, quite a rare name these days, means "light." So her name translates as Light Of Lawlessness, or something like that. That reminds me immediately of the Discordian motto, "ILLUMINATE THE OPPOSITION."

Funny how these things work out, isn’t it?

It turns out that Eris has, by far, the most eccentric orbit of anything yet found in the solar system. Go figure! Now, this object wanders far out past Pluto, so as you might expect it passes through the signs VERY slowly. Eris entered Aries in 1928. It is still right there. A full orbit of Eris through all the signs takes 556.7 years. So find the house ruled by Aries in your astrological chart. There you will find the area in your life where Eris sent the Green Bay Packers to kick your ass until you let go of your most cherished beliefs and desires.

I was thrilled to see the author make a connection between Eris and Persephone. (They originally wanted to name this KBO Persephone, but the name had already been taken by an asteroid.) My troubled relationship with pomegranates is a long, sad story beyond the scope of this blog, but SUFFICE TO SAY I have long suspected that the connection between these two goddesses might apply to others, not just me.

Don’t even get me STARTED on Stein’s feeling that Eris may be a co-ruler of Libra. That’s only MY Sun sign. It would sure explain why Taurus, ruled by Venus, craves only peace and order, while Libra, supposedly also ruled by Venus, seeks controversy for its own sweet sake. In college I learned the trick of using the word "abortion" in any sentence during class, then sitting back and TASTING THE DISCORD as – usually within 5 minutes – everyone in the room would wind up screaming at each other. This would not be amusing to my Taurus parents. They would probably flee the room. As a Libra, I live for this stuff.

The usual misunderstandings about the nature of Chaos obtain in this article. Two pages in the author describes Eris as the Goddess of Warfare. Oh, puh-LEEZE. Both the Greeks and the Romans had a more than adequate War God covering that department. These astrologers and mythology specialists, being mere humans themselves, forget that it’s the humans who bring on the wars with their constant need to be RIGHT and be IN CONTROL. Eris merely attempts to redress the imbalances she sees by inserting a different point of view, usually something along the lines of "You think you’re in control, buddy? Try THIS on for size." And then she throws, not a hand grenade, but an apple. It’s the resulting bullshit human power struggle over that apple that brings on the warfare, not Eris herself. BECAUSE EVERYONE WANTS A BITE.

I probably don't need to explain that to anyone likely to read this site, but hey, who ever passes up an opportunity to get preachy?